The late Kevin Towers was memorialized at a “Celebration Of Life” ceremony today at Petco Park, with scores of Towers’ friends and colleagues from around baseball in attendance. The Associated Press’ Jay Paris and the Padres’ Bill Center each have details on some of the memorials from the 22 speakers who shared their experiences and fond memories of Towers, whose 35 years in baseball included stints as the general manager of the Padres and the Diamondbacks. “He was one of the guys that always brought all the GMs together,” said former Reds and Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty. “Kevin loved life and lived it to the fullest. He suffered a lot in the last two years but he always stayed positive and fought a brave fight. There will never be another KT.”
Some more items from around the NL West…
- Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi stated earlier this week that the team is keeping an “open dialogue” with Clayton Kershaw about a potential contract extension. The ace southpaw seemingly agreed with that statement today, telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick) that Zaidi’s description of the relationship is “a good way to put it.” Kershaw also said that he is “on the same page” with Dodgers management. Kershaw is signed through the 2020 season, though he can walk away from the final two seasons (and $55MM) on his contract if he exercises an opt-out clause after the coming season. He turns 30 in March and injuries have limited Kershaw to only 324 innings over the last two seasons, though he has still performed to his usual elite level when healthy. An extension would remove Kershaw from the 2018-19 free agent class, a group that is heavy on big names overall but potentially rather slim on the pitching side should Kershaw remain in Los Angeles.
- Bryan Shaw’s decision to join the Rockies was helped by an endorsement from his former Indians manager Terry Francona, Shaw tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila. “I talked to Tito a little bit about the teams that had interest in me. I got his opinion of the organizations — the managers and others with roles within those organizations. He had nothing but good things to say about Bud Black and the guys who are here,” Shaw said. Cleveland’s front office also offered help with any questions Shaw might’ve had about other teams, a further sign of the good relationship between the right-hander and his former team. Shaw said that he and the Tribe had talks about a possible contract extension midway through last season, “but from a numbers standpoint it never got there.” In December, Shaw signed a three-year deal with Colorado worth $27MM in guaranteed money, plus a potential vesting option for the 2021 season that would pay him $7MM in additional salary.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, he hears from right-hander Chris Young that multiple teams contacted the veteran about potential front office positions this winter. The 38-year-old isn’t quite ready to retire, and in fact hopes to play two more seasons, though he is realistic that his on-field future could be decided within the next few weeks. “This spring is going to determine that. I’m either going to show that I’m back to being myself, or that my stuff isn’t playing. If my stuff isn’t there and I can’t get outs, the time will have come to move on from the playing side,” Young said. The Padres signed Young to a minor league deal this winter to see if he can rebound from a very rough pair of seasons; Young posted a 6.52 ERA over 118 2/3 innings with the Royals in 2016-17, allowing a whopping 35 home runs in that stretch.
- After three years of shuttling between Triple-A and the Yankees’ big league roster, Bryan Mitchell is relieved to finally have a stable place in the Padres’ rotation, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “It’s awesome….To know that now, I can set all my focus on Opening Day and working toward that. I don’t have to put pressure on myself or worry about that,” Mitchell said. “It’s just less stress, to be honest — to know that’s how they [the Padres] feel and I have that waiting on me. I can just set my goals on that first start and have everything ready versus have everything ready and not knowing. It eliminates the unknown factor.” The Padres felt strongly enough about Mitchell’s potential that they were willing to take on the $13MM remaining on Chase Headley’s contract in order to acquire the right-hander from New York.